Two Utah witnesses appeared before a Senate appropriations subcommittee Tuesday to ask for increased spending on housing and sewage treatment plants.
State Sen. Fred W. Finlinson, R-Salt Lake, represented the National Conference of State Legislatures in lobbying for more funding for assistance to state and local efforts to meet clean water goals.The National Conference is concerned, he said, that sewage treatment programs are being "severely underfunded" by Washington, making it difficult for localities to meet goals mandated by Congress in the 1972 Clean Water Act.
Salt Lake County is already being sued by the Environmental Protection Agency for not attaining cleanup goals, Finlinson told reporters. He is vice-chairman of the NCSL committee on the environment.
Cuts in clean water spending delayed construction of Salt Lake County's Central Valley plant for 10 years, he said. Fines for the delay from EOA could total $100 million.
Congress has refused to extend the deadlines, despite the fact that federal sewage grants never equaled the level promised in 1972.
With completion of the Central Valley Plant, Finlinson said, Salt Lake County will be in good shape, but Davis and Weber counties, and rural areas of the state will not be able to keep up sewage treatment plant construction to meet planned development. The result may be building moratoriums, Finlinson said.
The advocates of larger sewage treatment spending fear that the space program, and the National Science Foundation, which are funded in the same appropriations bill, will get a larger share of money provided by the subcommittee.
Boyd Hansen, Salt Lake City Housing commissioner, told the subcommittee federal housing programs need to be boosted, too. Representing the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials, Hansen said, "We believe Housing programs have been sacrificed more than any other domestic spending program to reduce the national deficit."
He cited a 75 percent reduction in housing budget authority since 1981 and recommended spending $7.3 billion on public housing next year.
Subsidized housing costs are $357 a month, on average, he said, while occupants pay rent of $104 a month. Governments must pick up the $253 a month difference, he testified.